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Loose ends

We’ve had a couple of extraordinary date nights during the last couple of weeks.

Last night the Beast suggested we pick up Maker Pizza after work and finish watching Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. We’d started the film the night before but I couldn’t stay up to finish it, maybe because I was full of an incredible minestrone-style soup the Beast had made (the secret, he says, is popping in some parmigiano rinds as it simmers, and sautéing the mirepoix in more butter than you think you need) and this Sicilian Nero d’Avola, which was worth every cent of the splurge.  Or perhaps it was because we’d already finished Francois Truffault’s The 400 Blows, a movie that the Beast gets quite choked up about, especially the ending, and which I remember not warming to in the same way. This time around, however, it hit home in all the right ways. What a beautifully sad film!

But back to the date night: we picked up three small pizzas: a Cool Hand Zucch, a Dr. Pepperoni, and a So Mushroom–plus an order of wings. It was not cheap. But good lord are they delicious. Plus, it was a date night. It took us a while to get home so we heated up half of the pizzas, hoping to get a lunch from the leftovers, and started The Master from the beginning.

We paused the movie approximately three times to comment on Joaquin Phoenix’s performance, which scored him an Oscar nomination but he lost that year to Daniel Day Lewis’ turn as Abraham Lincoln, and to discuss who are today’s directing “auteurs”: For a start, Anderson, for sure, Nicole Holefcener (we revisited Friends with Money that week too), David Fincher, and, stylistically at least, Wes Anderson.

The other date night didn’t take place on our couch. It started at Brothers, where we’ve never had a plate of food, or glass of wine for that matter, that hasn’t left a lasting impression.

From there we walked to the ROM to hear a lecture by the president of the New Acropolis Museum, Dimitrios Pandermalis. I scored the pair of media passes from my colleague at work, who is much younger than I am and gets invitations to everything. He gave them to me because he didn’t know what the Acropolis was. I tried to explain that this is where the Parthenon is. “The what?” he said. And boom, baby got her tickets for a date night, although not before spending a few moments wondering how PR people go about deciding on their guest lists. Because a couple of weeks before this, the same colleague received an invitation to the premiere of an opera about a Roman Emperor. “Who’s Hadrian?” he asked.

If this all sounds shady it’s because it is. Oh I’ve been full of dark ego these days. Of course, these injustices–How could I not get invited to a talk about the Acropolis? How could I not get invited to an opera about a Roman emperor? How could a 25-year-old “influencer” get invited to be a panelist on a movie podcast when they don’t even know who Billy Wilder is? Why is nobody offering me a job to host a travel show?–are hardly injustices. That I get so offended says more about me than the people doing the inviting. Besides, as my colleague loves to point out, maybe I don’t get invited to anything because I never go to anything. Maybe I’m not considered because I don’t really do the work to let people know I’m interested. Maybe I don’t do the work because that would require putting myself out there a little more, like on social media and  hustling aggressively in elevators with CEOs, and the idea of doing that repulses me. And maybe I should just be grateful to still get invitations to a shoe store opening at Yorkdale Mall.

Aristotle noted that the playwright Sophocles portrayed people as they ought to be and that Euripides drew them as they actually are. Basically, I’m a character in a Euripides play and boy am I ugly: I mean, I’m quoting Aristotle for starters. But there is something wonderfully comic about it all though. And it all makes for good material for a potential satire about a middle-aged privileged white woman who thinks she’s owed something.

Although there are moments when what I’m owed seems like a morally sound expectation: In April I successfully pitched a travel story to a newspaper. I handed in the piece on time and to word count. Except for an out-of-office notification in June, I haven’t heard from the editor since. I think they call that ghosting. I was ghosted. This would only be supplementary income for me. How do freelance writers, of whom I know many, handle this? And I’m not talking only about the loss of income but also the kick in the ass to one’s confidence? Because you begin to think that maybe the story was horrible. Maybe the editor didn’t write back because how do you tell someone that they’re a joke? That they can not write?

On my “To Do” list before I go on vacation is “email editor and ask when I can expect my kill fee”.

That’s what a confident person would do, right? I know I won’t do it because, as you can see, my confidence is a little confused these days. On one hand, I expect to be handed opportunities without telling anyone I want them and on the other I don’t want anything because I have nothing worthy to give.

Thank goddess I’ve got this vacation to look forward to. We will arrive in Athens on Sunday morning, pick up our rental car and head straight to the Mani, the southern-most point of continental Europe. We spent one night here two years ago and I promised myself that we’d someday return to this wild and rugged landscape hugged by the sea that enchanted the writer Patrick Leigh Fermor, where its rumoured Paris left with Helen and headed back to Troy, and where the front door to Hades may be hidden in a cave.

I just tried to find the story I wrote about this night in the Mani in my former Metro column and this is what came up:

Two of the most popular searches have to do with my age. Oh fuck. Oh fuckedy fuck. Listen, I know!  Time is running out! 

Maybe it’ll slow down during our five nights in the Mani, followed by five nights on Hydra, an island with no cars, and then two nights in Athens before we fly home.

Anyway, the Mani article doesn’t appear online any longer–but I found a PDF of that issue of the paper. It may be the last bit of writing that I actually shared on social media. That was December, 2016. Whether it’s a post here, or something from work, I don’t do that anymore. Maybe I was especially proud of the travel piece. It was pretty good! I told the Beast as much saying “Look! I used to be a good writer!”

“You still are a good writer,” he said, “and please don’t talk that way.”

The last couple of lines are: “There were a million stars above us. It’s been a year of unpleasant surprises but that night, under the heavens, everything felt possible.”

Maybe that’s what I’m chasing. And you know what? That’s a solid pursuit.

And I can count on the Beast to both boost my ego and also keep it in check. The other day in the car, a lovely piece of jazz came on, which, in the moment, I registered as piano jazz. “Is this Art Tatum?” I asked the Beast.

“Only a person who watches eight episodes in a row of This Is Us would confuse Django Reinhardt for Art Tatum,” he said. “God you’re ignorant.”


2 replies »

  1. Don’t be so hard on yourself, Jess!! I’m (just a little) older than you and you’re way further along than me. I wish I had a fraction of the talent and success that you have!

    P.S. Maker Pizza is the BEST pizza in the city. I order from there once a week, but I could literally eat there every day.

    P.P.S. Hope you have a great time in Greece!

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